Notespinner

Thoughts on composing, teaching and performing music, by Fergus Black

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a picture of ears to illustrate listening to music and exam aural tests

Vocabulary for talking about music

ABRSM Aural Tests assess students' listening skills by requiring discussion of a piece of music which is played to the student on the piano. In my experience, students are sometimes disadvantaged by a lack of vocabulary in discussing the music.

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Proud children with exam certificates

Music exam boards go head-to-head

Which exam board should aspiring musicians follow? Which has the best syllabus? and which has the best structure? For years I have followed ABRSM: ABRSM is the gold standard, imho, against which other boards could and should compare themselves.

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A picture of numbers

Is counting natural?

Is counting natural? My experience tells me not! Many young children have to be taught to hear the pulse of music, and most of us have had to learn to keep a steady pulse. One needs to practise, sometimes, with a metronome.

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A 19th century painting of waltzing couples.

Dance Music

Students need help with their dancing. Being able to identify a waltz (oom-pah-pah), or a Sarabande (slow, in three, and 'sits down' on the second beat) from their distinctive rhythms and texture is useful in itself, but there is an added bonus.

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